Saturday, December 2, 2017

A God Connection!

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong?

While in Sri Lanka we had one of those days! It started with us waking up at 2:30 a.m. to take Cyndy to the airport for her return trip home.

Later that morning we spent time sorting, packing and taking inventory of eyeglasses for our upcoming clinic.  Sounds simple, but it's a lot of work in a small room with no A/C.  After a couple of hours Pat and I were drenched in sweat.  We were looking forward to heading back to our hotel room, taking a shower and getting some rest.  Pat went into the bathroom and nearly slipped in a sea of water covering the floor!  

Now, this is not a fancy hotel;  a little lower then a Motel 6, (sorry to all of you that stay there, no disrespect).  Many times people think we stay at hotels suited for Westerners - but we stay where our own personal criteria is that one of the rooms has to be clean. We've noticed in our travels over the years is that if the bedroom is clean, then the bathroom is dirty and vice versa.

I could see the water was coming out from the wall and immediately knew - we have a broken pipe and this was going to be a problem.

The hotel clerk spoke reasonable English, so I went downstairs to let him know what was happening. His response was to send a porter to squeegee the floor.  Three minutes later our swimming pool was back, so down I went to the hotel clerk, with Pat's parting words ringing in my ears, "Remember you're a Christian, so act Christlike!"  I asked nicely for us to be moved to another room, but was informed that wouldn't be possible because  the air conditioners in the two other A/C rooms, were broken.  To stay in a non-A/C room would be unbearable as the humidity in Sri Lanka is very high!

What to do?  We let our contacts know about our predicament and went right to the Internet to find a reasonably price hotel nearby.   Now, Pat and I have learned through the years that 'God's got it'. We know He is in control, even when everything in our lives seems out of control. What came about because of a broken water pipe, was more then we could imagine.  

As we searched for a different place to stay, the Lord led us to a studio apartment attached to a private residence.  The apartment has it's own kitchen, a washer and dryer; and the property is right on the shores of Lake Bolgoda.  This mean we could prepare our own meals, no more laundry in the bathroom sink and wonderful peace and quiet. (Note: we love trains, but not when they are rambling by at 4:00 am to wake us up.)   Yeah God!  And all of this was just a little bit more then we were paying for at our other hotel.

But wait, this was not the connection.  Here is where the Lord really showed off.  The family we rented the apartment from 'just happened' to be Christians; who 'just happened' to be involved in the local Lions Club doing eye clinics;  and the Husband of the house 'just happened' to be on the Board of Directors for the Gift of Sight Hospital - that primarily does cataract surgeries.

Gift of Sight Hospital, Panadura, Sri Lanka

This is something that was an ongoing challenge for us.  We see so many people who have cataracts but we didn't have a place send them for the surgery.  Now we do!

Cataract surgery is simple and very effective.  Because of our non-profit status and mission work, they will take referrals, and perform the cataract surgery at cost.  Which is between 8,000 - 8,500 Sri Lankan Rupees for one eye.  That converts to  US$50 -$55 per eye for the surgery and follow up care. Wow!

Pat and I have experienced countless times in our lives where the Lord does something that causes us to come into a divine connection we needed.  There are no coincidences with God!

As the journey continues, we are looking forward to seeing who will be helped through this God Connection.

Blessings - Gary
The setting of our studio apartment - very peaceful

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sri Lanka Morning

We are safely back home, and mostly readjusted and recovered from jet lag.   There is still so much to share about our month in Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka is an island nation surrounded by the Indian Ocean. It has many gorgeous tropical beaches that attract a growing tourist market.


Several of our eye clinics were held in rural villages with no hotels. Beach hotels, however, were within an hour's drive, so we were blessed to return to a refreshing ocean setting after each day's eye clinics.



Early morning walks on the beach are a wonderful way to start the day, communing with the Creator of the natural splendor that surrounds us. Plus breathing in the refreshing ocean air and positive ions is quite energizing.


Wherever you find yourself today, may your day be blessed with the knowledge of your Creator God.
Blessings, Pat



Friday, November 10, 2017

Journey's End

The end of every mission trip produces mixed emotions. 

Bittersweet conflicting feelings as we leave our friends and ministry partners in this beautiful nation that we love; coming home to friends and family in the US, whom we also love.

A deep satisfaction for the individuals helped and community relations strengthened; along with a yearning to address the great need that remains.

A feeling of "is it over already?" as we make the long journey home, and assimilate into a somewhat normal routine.

Each day is an opportunity to make a difference right where we are. Right where you are.
Our prayer is that you will be inspired by our journey even as you live out yours. 

With grateful hearts for you ~ Pat and Gary

Bangkok Dawn as we Journey Home

Monday, November 6, 2017

Quick Report - Weekend #4

Since my energy level has been low, I find myself napping rather than summarizing events of this past week. 

Please forgive the brevity of this overview, and stay tuned for details and photos. 

Weekend #4 wrapped up Sunday evening with a six hour drive back to home base. Thursday through Sunday was spent in the Buttala area, which has had a lot of persecution and unrest.

Praising the Lord that the eye clinics Friday and Saturday were successful with 256 people seen for eye exams, and 211 pair of glasses given.  We had Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians all come. In fact Friday's clinic was in a partially constructed home of a Buddhist man!

Overall this trip has had the largest and most successful eye clinics. During 9 clinics, 1,023 people had eye exams, and 838 received eye glasses.  All at no cost to them, through your generosity.

Thank you for all the loving prayers and support. Each if you are important to us and the Lord.     Gary & Pat


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Sri Lankan Birthday Celebration

As birthday celebrations go, this one is right up there in my Top Ten.

Due to the time difference between North America and Asia - I actually celebrated for 2 days!

Sunday in Sri Lanka started with a perfect cup of milk tea, enjoyed at dawn on the shore of Bolgoda Lake.  Water birds provided our morning's sound track and entertainment.

The traditional Sri Lankan birthday breakfast of rice milk, coconut jaggery, and chili paste was delivered by our friends and hosts Deepthi and Layasing.  The apartment we are renting in a private residence has a kitchen/dining/living area - so we were able to reciprocate their hospitality and invite them to share the breakfast they so graciously provided.  Did I mention they included a tasty coffee mocha birthday cake?

The day was spent doing laundry, catching up on correspondence, and relaxing.  That evening we attended an English service at Kollupitiya Methodist Church in Colombo.  There is an reverent sense of history when walking into this 121 year old sanctuary with vaulted ceilings and stained glass.  An inspiring expository teaching on "Why The Reformation Matters" marked the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (Begun when Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of the Wittenberg Church)

When my birthday dawned in North America, I was fast asleep in Sri Lanka.  Electronic birthday greetings awaited when I woke up Monday.  Morning chapel at  Adara Sevana included a rousing account of Peter fishing all night, singing, prayer, and a special birthday lunch - with more cake.

The students greeted me with Birthday wishes and another Sri Lankan tradition - bouquets of flowers from their family gardens.  On this lush tropical island, that means vibrant exotic blooms.  And lots of smiles and love.   (Note: Adara Sevana means 'Love Shelter' in Sinhalese and is a non-profit school for the differently-abled.)

A special birthday lunch was served and enjoyed by all.  Feeling well celebrated indeed.

Refreshed and ready for our last week in Sri Lanka.  Thank you for being a part of what God is doing.  Your loving support and prayers means more than you can know.

Not feeling my age - - Pat

  



Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Plans We Make

"We should make plans—counting on God to direct us." Proverbs 16:9 TLB

Eye clinics were scheduled for two villages where the people primarily work in a coconut plantation, husking coconuts.  They are paid a few rupees for each coconut they husk.

As preparations were being made, with a small tent being erected for shade, a radical Buddhist group called the BBS opposed the eye clinics, accusing the church of bribing people to convert to Christianity.

For safety, the clinics were relocated to another village about 30 minutes away.  Arrangements were made to transport the people on lorries (trucks).  Sadly it turned out that because they would need to be gone for several hours, their plantation manager would not give them leave from work.  Our prayer is that the opposition will die down, and an eye clinic can be held for them in the future. 

Friday and Saturday's clinics were still in the Negombo area, in the villages of Horogasmulla and Polwatta (which means coconut garden.  This particular village is so small it doesn't show up on Google Maps). The local Methodist churches organized and hosted the clinics. The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka has a 200 year history here, and retains a level of respect from villagers and officials. 

The villagers primarily work as potters.  Shaping and firing serviceable clay pots for flowers, water, then selling them to wholesalers.  At least 2 men came that drive commercial trucks.  We were glad to help them, and make the roads safer.

During two days, 237 people had their eyes examined; 207 received eye glasses.  All were prayed for and encouraged.  The broad smiles on their faces as they look through their new glasses and see clearly is a rich reward.





The lady in the middle runs a small shop and needed to be able to read the tiny writing on her product packages.

The two men are commercial truck drivers.  Without glasses, one could only read the 1st to lines of the chart.  Working with Commercial Truck Drivers for many years, I know how critical good eyesight is to them.

Thank you for being a part of what God is doing in Sri Lanka.

For the Least of These - we continue the journey.    Gary and Pat


Catch up with Cyndy as she gets over her jet lag at www.Montana1aDay.com. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

On Travel Food


Dear Dr. Dawn, 

If you are reading this, please cover your eyes and scroll down or up to a different post - unless you have absolution on offer. 
Because my confession is: In the roughly 11,000 air and land miles of the past couple weeks, I fell pretty hard off your prescribed No Dairy-Grains-Sweetener wagon. Yes, there were plenty of tasty vegetables and protein choices - which I gratefully and heartily enjoyed. But there were also warm croissants. With butter from sweet-eyed Sri Lankan cows. And mango pie. And those little traditional spiral pastries infused with honey. And not just ice cream - which I could have passed up - but gelato. It would have been decidedly impolite to rebuff the hospitably smiling flight attendant who handed it over without asking if I wanted any, right? 
And, as a Canadian, it goes against my inborn ethics to be impolite.  
Plus, even if she HAD asked if I wanted a micro-serving of frozen delight (in an elfin cup with a wee little spoon, no less!), I couldn't have LIED - particularly in my pseudo-missionary status - because I truthfully wanted it desperately enough to lay aside my handcrafted Sweet Peaks snobbery and fully live in the deliciously chilly moment presented.

So, now I hope you can understand why I could no more refuse the gelato (or creamy yoghurt, Biskoff cookies, and the stroopwaffle I saved for later...) than the swallows can NOT fly to San Juan Capistrano.
(And aren't they fortunate to not have their flight path fraught with dairy danger?!!)

But tomorrow is a new day ripe for new beginnings  - starting right after we meet the kids downtown at Sweet Peaks. (Anyone else in for a scoop of Candy Corn or Plum Cadamom?

Sincerely, 

Cyndy aka Your Prodigal Patient